This Sunday, after all the major Feast Days post Easter, we return to the Ordinary Cycle of the Liturgical Year (ie 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time). The way the Liturgical cycle is set out with Easter being a moving Feast Day, we often do not get a chance to celebrate the 10th Sunday in Ordinary time – which means the readings from this Sunday has not been heard for a long time!!!
The readings, especially the First and the Gospel passage, present us with two widows who have both lost their sons. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one would know it is a time of shock, mourning, grief and sometimes even darkness. The two widows, one of Zeraphath in the first reading and one of Nain in the Gospel face more than just losing their sons. Because widows in the time of Jesus had no way to support themselves except through doing menial tasks doing odd jobs here and there, their sons would have been their ticket to their survival, and their caregiver when they get old and infirm. I remember by own grandfather telling me that there is no greater grief than to lose a child for in the natural course of life, normally it is the parents who die first. Thus the widows’ grief must have been great.
But God was aware of their grief. In the first reading God heard the prayers of Elijah for the widow of Zeraphath and restored her son’s life. This is paralleled in the Gospel when Jesus brought the widow of Nain’s son back to life. The grief of the widows turned into complete joy. Jesus Christ has conquered death. ” the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth itself” the widow of the first reading exclaimed. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” the people of the Gospel added. You can feel the excitement and joy in the people who proclaimed these statements. The two no doubt eventually died at a later time, but it is nevertheless a reminder that Our Lord is the Lord of life.
Essentially this Sunday’s message is a different form of the Easter Message. At Easter we proclaimed with joy “Alleluia, Christ has risen.” This joy, though, is not meant to be limited to Easter. It is the joy to be remembered always, even in the face of the death of our loved ones. Alleluia, Christ has conquered death. Our hope is in life eternal, with God and with each other for all eternity.
God Bless, Fr Michael